What do you think when you hear a good news story?
Woven into the Australian mindset is a deep cynicism that keeps us from falling blindly into the fairytales spun by those who would want us to believe something seemingly too good to be true. Cute cliches and impressive design don’t buy us over long term, although we’ve probably all fallen for them temporarily at some time in our lives.
Given Australia is the culture in which I have grown up, along with years of scientific training and education, I am not easily convinced by stories of change. However, this past month I heard some stories and read some data that persuaded me that change for the better can really happen – and I just had to share with you.
It is a good news story, but it has a very dark beginning. Across many cities of the Philippines, children are sold on the streets for sex. In the city of Pampanga, it wasn’t just one or two children here or there:
1 in every 11 sex workers were children.
That was in 2012, and it was that same year when an organisation known as International Justice Mission (IJM) began to implement some changes that began to catalyse significant change for the better. Their approach was to work through the country’s legal system, case by case, and in the process empower that system to implement justice by bringing solutions to the problems within the existing legal frameworks.
By 2016, just four years later, in a country in which the written law does not allow children to be sold for sex, the figures reflected a more robust justice system.
In Pampanga, the number of children involved in the sex industry dropped to only 1 in 83 workers.
On the grounds of proven success, IJM has its sights set on tackling a more recently emerging crime: cybersex abuse of minors. Their drive, passion and commitment is obvious, as is their care for the vulnerable and enslaved.
I was both unsettled and delighted after spending an evening with some of the IJM staff, hearing their stories and their hope and vision for the future. It made me glad that for Dignity has been a financial partner with them since we began.
It also made me determined to continue to donate a portion of our overall profits, as well as direct proceeds from some of our locally handcrafted range, to this wonderful organisation.
That is our way of participating in the valuable work of stemming the flow of abuse, enslavement and trafficking of children and empowering local justice systems to be effective in implementing justice.
It’s a great thing to be doing together!
Heather Rayside is the founder of Melbourne-based ethical fashion business for Dignity. Her business empowers consumers to help stop human trafficking and slavery, by purchasing products from organisations that prevent, rescue and restore people from human trafficking and exploitation – generating income for producers and financial support for the programs of the organisations. Heather donates a portion of for Dignity’s profits to IJM and we’re so grateful for her generosity and heart for justice!
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